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France Court Postpones Decision On Extradition Of Ex-Kosovo PM Haradinaj

Following a request from Serbia, French authorities detained former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on January 4. (file photo)

A French appeals court has postponed a decision on the possible extradition of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was a guerrilla commander during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

The court has said a ruling on Haradinaj's extradition will be made on April 6.

Following a request from Serbia, French authorities had detained Haradinaj as he flew into France on January 4.

Serbia says he is a war criminal for his role in leading a guerrilla insurgency in its former southern province of Kosovo.

The 1998-99 war between Serbian forces and Kosovo Albanian guerrillas was ended by a NATO air campaign. The conflict killed 13,500 people, most of them ethnic Albanians.

Predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

After a short hearing in a French court in Colmar, Haradinaj told reporters, "this is an abuse."

"I am a political hostage. This whole procedure is not about the law, it's mostly about politics. The 1998-1999 war was dealt with by the Hague Tribunal. Everyone involved in this decision will be embarrassed. I am to remain in France", Haradinaj said.

His arrest further strained tense diplomatic ties between Serbia and Kosovo, which declared independence with Western backing in 2008 and has demanded Belgrade drop its efforts to prosecute people linked to the conflict.

Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party has urged French authorities to stop all legal actions against him.

Serbia said in January that it would refuse to extradite suspects sought by France if Paris failed to hand over Haradinaj.